KUCHING: Sarawak is the first state in Malaysia to have legislation regulating carbon storage and the reduction of carbon emissions following amendments to the state Land Code.
The state legislative assembly passed the Land Code (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday (May 18) after it was debated by 17 assemblymen.
The amendments, among others, sought to regulate and control the use of land for the storage, retention, capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as part of measures to mitigate climate change and global warming.
Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Deputy Minister in the Premier's Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said this made Sarawak the first state to enact legislation enabling industries operating in the state to comply with international requirements to reduce carbon emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
She said the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from industries would have to be captured, compressed, transported and stored underground or in other secure facilities.
"The amendments would empower the State Planning Authority to approve sites, both on land and offshore, to be used for carbon storage.
"Once approved by SPA, licences will be issued for the land to be used as carbon storage sites," she said when tabling the Bill.
Sharifah Hasidah said such sites would include depleted oil and gas reservoirs, deep unused saline aquifers and deep unmineable coal seams.
She also said rules would be drawn up on the trading of carbon credit generated from carbon storage based on international standards.
"With this law in place, foreign investors would find Sarawak a good investment destination with well-regulated facilities for them to comply with international laws on reducing carbon emissions," she said.
Sharifah Hasidah said Sarawak had the biggest carbon storage capacity in Malaysia, estimated at 30 trillion cubic feet offshore.
"Carbon dioxide stored thus could generate carbon credit equivalent to RM3.5bil per year when traded in compliance with internationally accepted carbon standards.
"The carbon capture, utilisation and storage industry could also create up to 10,000 new jobs in Sarawak," she said.
The Bill also amended the definition of "land" to include the airspace above the land, in line with Section 44 of the National Land Code.
Sharifah Hasidah said this would give the state government control of the airspace and any matters within the airspace, such as spectrum.
"This amendment would enable the state government to ensure that spectrum in the airspace of land in the state would be regulated and used in accordance with plans to establish or improve statewide telecommunications infrastructure to support the economic transformation of Sarawak under the post-Covid development plan," she said.